Market Snapshot: Canadian crude exports reach new highs towards the end of 2016

Release date: 2017-03-02

In November 2016, Canadian crude oil exports reached an all-time high of 3.39 million barrels per day (MMb/d), surpassing the previous high set eleven months earlierFootnote 1 and increasing by over 300 Mb/d from October.Footnote 2 Most of the increase was shipped on pipelines to the United States (U.S.) Midwest Region (PADD II),Footnote 3 but marine exports to the U.S. East Coast (PADD I) and railed exports to the U.S. Gulf Coast (PADD III) also had notable increases. Pipeline exports reached an all-time high of 2.99 MMb/d, marine exports reached a 28-month high of 272 Mb/d, and railed exports reached a then 14-month high of 120 Mb/d.

Source and Description

Source: NEB

Description : This chart shows Canadian crude oil exports by transportation mode and by destination for 2007 to 2016. The stacked areas show the portions of total exports shipped by pipeline, marine tanker, and rail. Pipeline exports increased by 1.3 MMb/d over the ten-year period, while marine volumes averaged 200 Mb/d. Railed exports emerged in 2011, with an average of 106 Mb/d exported by rail between 2012 and 2016. The lines on the chart show the amount of crude oil exported to each PADD as well as to non-U.S. destinations. Exports to the U.S. Midwest have grown the most, rising from 1.16 MMb/d at the start of 2007 to 2.16 MMb/d in December 2016. Exports to the U.S. Gulf Coast averaged 400 Mb/d in 2015 and 2016, over three times the average from 2007 to 2014.

The increase in exports during the second half of 2016 is partly due to the return of oil sands production curtailed earlier in the year, and partly due to completion of new oil sands projects. There was also a significant increase in mined oil sands production in November, as output increased by more than 130 Mb/d compared to the previous month. Cenovus increased production at its Christina Lake and Foster Creek in situ sites, while in situ production from the Cold Lake, Surmont, and Mackay River areas also had notable growth in the fourth quarter. In addition, offshore East Coast production was also higher toward the end of 2016.

The peaks in November are consistent with several longer term trends. Since 2010, Canadian exports of crude oil have increased rapidly, with most of the added exports being shipped on pipelines to the U.S. Midwest. Railroad shipments to various PADDs emerged in 2011 and have remained, but their volume has decreased from their peak period in late 2013 through 2014. Finally, the Gulf Coast was established as the second largest export destination for Canadian crude in 2015 after the reversal and twinning of the Seaway Pipeline and completion of the Keystone Pipelines System’s Gulf Coast Extension.

Download the Canadian crude oil export data used to create the chart above [EXCEL 41 KB]

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